[Column] Harvin Gupta: The demise of the third-party cookie is an opportunity not a challenge
As all the major browsers continue plans to phase out the third-party cookie, anxiety continues to grow among advertisers that are looking for new ways to engage valuable customers directly.
The impending browser updates are a positive step toward a higher standard of consumer privacy, and are aligned with recent laws and regulatory guidance.. But, they also present the advertising ecosystem with a challenge — some might say an opportunity — to champion privacy while finding new and innovative ways to provide marketers and consumers with relevant, targeted ad experiences.
This is not about solving the loss of third-party cookies or creating workarounds, instead we need to develop strategic identity solutions, enabling publishers to maximize the value of their first-party data, help advertisers meet their business goals and build consumer trust in digital advertising.
Increased regulation and its impact on marketing strategies
Across the globe data regulation is increasing, we’ve seen the introduction of GDPR, ePrivacy, UAVG and most recently the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) in the US. This changing landscape means advertisers need to understand the impact of those regulations on their existing data collections — and to assess any new policies that need to be implemented as a result.
Especially for businesses that span different, regions, and countries, these latest regulations must be prioritized when developing company strategies. Working closely with industry bodies such as the IAB Netherlands can be helpful for better understanding the implications of new rules, and how peers in the industry are reacting. In many cases, this leads to collaboration, consistency and ultimately a more successful strategy.
First-party data is now a must have
The demise of the third-party cookie will further increase the importance of maximising the value of first-party data insights derived from direct-to-consumer touch points. First-party insights are key to facilitating a better view of audience identity between publishers and advertisers, as well as a source of truth for privacy-safe solutions, and the move away from third-party cookies will make these insights increasingly important.
Products that enable businesses to leverage first-party data while maintaining consumer trust and addressing privacy and regulatory restrictions that impact the industry will be vital. It’s crucial for technology and analytics solutions to ensure that first-party data sources can connect advertisers, platforms and publishers in ways that enable privacy-safe discovery, matching, analysis and activation. It’s also critical to ensuring that sensitive data — i.e., PII — is never exposed to external sources.
For the digital advertising industry to advance in an era of data protection and consumer privacy, it's important to generate a seamless flow of data and insights between advertisers, media companies, and technology platforms in a way that’s compliant with global regulations.while returning audience match rates and analytics in real-time.
Go back to basics
Identity is key to powering relevant advertising. Even the most basic of ad functions like frequency and recency control, are not possible without understanding a user’s identity. Connecting more relevant ads to users is part and parcel of making advertising a better experience overall. But achieving this in a privacy-safe way can be challenging.
Classic models such as contextual targeting have been around since the start of the programmatic era, but now they are re-emerging as the approach of choice for advertisers.. Not only does contextual targeting enable advertisers to reach audiences based on context or categories of interest rather than IDs, it also supports a continued stream of advertising revenue that is essential for publishers bound by privacy regulations.
Widely proven to help brands maintain the relevancy of their advertising to consumers, the accuracy and precision of contextual targeting will only increase as technology continues to evolve. The better a platform can understand the true context of a page, the better the ad match — and the better the consumer experience.
Broaden formats and channels to drive new engagement
To optimize media spend in a world without cookies, buyers need to diversify and expand the formats in which they deliver their messages. Mediums and channels such as digital out-of-home and addressable TV are seeing rapid growth due in part to Covid-19 driving changes in consumers' viewing habits. However, as these formats are not reliant on browser-based cookies, , these channels are a safe bet for advertisers looking to engage relevant audiences across screens.
Long-form video offerings prompting robust engagement will grow in importance and buying strategies such as programmatic guaranteed, which enables buyers to easily reserve access to premium supply through a consolidated buying platform, may well become the preferred transaction method.
It’s inevitable that consumer privacy controls — whether because of regulations, technical changes or device-maker strategy — will continue on its current trajectory. And, while these are positive developments strategies still need to centre around developing solutions that create better, more personalized experiences for consumers, while continuing to fund free, high-quality content through advertising.